Published: Sat, September 07, 2019

India's Chandrayaan-2 Fails To Make Soft-Landing On Moon's South Pole

India's Chandrayaan-2 Fails To Make Soft-Landing On Moon's South Pole

Early on Saturday, minutes before the scheduled soft-landing of Vikram on the surface of the moon, the lander lost communication with the Earth.

The Vikram lander of Chandrayaan 2, or Moon Chariot 2, is due to land in the lunar South Pole region, a region the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) says is "completely unexplored". Several minutes later, ISRO chief K. Sivan said that Vikram's descent was nominal until an altitude of 2.1 kilometers, and communications were lost shortly thereafter.

India lost contact with its unmanned Vikram probe during the final moments of its audacious attempt to land on the moon on Friday.

The entire event was live-streamed from the ISRO's Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) facility in Bengaluru, India. ISRO is now attempting to make contact with the spacecraft after analysing the lander's descent.

This achievement on the moon would have been even more astonishing because after a series of very expensive setbacks - including an aborted initial launch - ISRO had delivered the Chandrayaan-2 lunar mission at a budget price point of just $141m. This will be followed by the Rover roll out between 5:30 am to 6:30 am, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) stated. The south pole of the Moon has a much higher occurrence of water ice because of craters whose interiors aren't hit by near-constant sunlight, as opposed to the north pole of the Moon.

Chandrayaan-2 - or Moon Chariot 2 - took off on July 22 carrying an orbiter, lander and rover nearly entirely designed and made in India, a week after an initial launch was halted just before blast-off.

The spacecraft was budgeted at $100 million (NIS 370 million), a fraction of the cost of vehicles launched to the moon by major powers US, Russia and China in the past. "We remain hopeful and will continue working hard on our space programme", Modi tweeted.

The Pragyan lunar rover will then move around the Moon for one lunar day. The mission consisted of three segments - the Orbiter (weighing 2,379 kg, eight payloads), "Vikram" (1,471 kg, four payloads) and rover "Pragyan" (27 kg, two payloads).

The Vikram lander is part of the Chandrayaan-2 ("moon craft-2" in Hindi) mission, which consists of an orbiter, lander and rover element.

Given that India's space agency has never completed such an ambitious feat, its second moon mission was planned mostly as a proof-of-technology mission.

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